Sunday, September 30, 2007

Democratic Writing-Installment 1

For an explanation of this project, please read my previous post. Otherwise, enjoy! And PLEASE-provide feedback, and ideas for the next installment! Let's make it a fun project!

Consciousness dawned slowly as light gradually filtered past my hooded eyelids. Long damp eyelashes sticking to each other gave the impression that I was behind bars.

My right arm ignored the command from the brain to bring my hand up to wipe my eyes. It was as if the arm was absent; I felt nothing. I focused, tried mightily to remember where I was and how I’d come to be here, but it felt as though someone had packed my head full of pillow stuffing. I could think of nothing other than the fact that I no longer had a right arm.

The room came slowly into focus. The flickering light hurt my head. I had to clench my eyes to shut it out, but not before I saw that I was lying on my side, cheek resting on cracked terracotta tiles, some missing in places- grimy, strewn with the detritus of neglect. Corners and crevices were piled with dirt and trash.

The tile ran up the walls (although numerous pieces were missing there; in falling off, the missing tiles had torn away huge chunks of sheetrock, so that, in some places, rotted framing showed through). Pipes stuck through the wall in various places-small pipes. From one, brackish water dripped

dripdrip dripdrip dripdrip

steadily, running across the uneven floor, then pooling about a foot in front of my face. Mouse droppings floated in the pool.

As the room began to register, my thoughts came into focus. I heaved myself onto my back, then I lifted my head. Somewhere deep in my head, a jackhammer began working desperately to break its way out. I clenched my eyes shut, let my head fall back to the dirty tile floor and rested for a second, let the clamoring in my head subside.

This time, I rolled my head to the right, opened my eyes slowly, and used my left arm to search about for my right. I groped about, then, screamed involuntarily. My right arm was gone. My heart beating frantically, I felt for the stub- then breathed a sigh of relief; the arm was apparently asleep. It was twisted abnormally behind my back, and was pinned beneath me. I used my left arm to push my body off the ground enough to swing my lifeless right arm around from underneath me. It lay cocked off strangely to the right, but almost immediately, a painful tingling started working its way up from the fingertips.

I let the fingers of my left hand feel for my legs, and having confirmed the presence of all appendages, moved on in my mind to the next pressing issue: Where was I?

I used my left arm (and my still weak right arm) to grab a pipe sticking from the wall, and pull myself against the wall. A lifetime later, I’d pulled myself to a slumped, sitting position, back resting against the wall.

The room had no windows. The single door in the far wall looked to be made of steel- painted and repainted, then repainted again-countless times it appeared, as virtually every color in the rainbow, and every variation thereof, showed through somewhere on the door. It had no handle, knob, or visible lock of any sort.

The wall I rested against had a line of pipes sticking from it. One of these was the one emitting the steady drip of water. There were holes in the floor too-in fact, at some point in my gradual awakening, my olfactory senses had returned. From these holes in the floor emanated the most offensive of smells. Had I any strength, I likely would have vomited. As it was, I barely had the energy to smell.

The light came from a bare bulb attached to the ceiling. A string hung down a few feet, well within reach were I standing. From the floor though, it might as well have been 100 miles away.

I looked down at myself. I had on a torn sweatshirt, grubby jeans, socks and no shoes. I can’t recall having put any of this on, but the clothing was mine. I looked around for my shoes. No shoes in the room.

I tested my strength-leaned forward and rested my upper body weight on my arms. They wobbled, but held. I bent forward, pulled my legs around behind me, and duck-crawled toward the door. The door couldn’t have been more than ten feet from where I rested, but it felt like ten times that. I stopped and rested twice during the journey. When I finally reached the door, I rested my weight on my elbows, and used my head to push against the door. Solid. It wouldn’t budge.

I pulled myself into a sitting position, rested my back against the door, and pushed. Still no movement. It was locked from the outside.

I’ve never thought myself to be phobic, but the thought of being locked alone inside this dirty, cramped room, immediately pushed the remaining cobwebs from my mind, and replaced all rational thought with raw, stark terror.

I screamed. Long and hard. I must have cried because at some point, I looked down to see fresh, wet drops on the front of my sweatshirt. I don’t know how long I screamed, but it was enough to make my voice hoarse, my throat raspy.

My energy finally spent, I sat, gasping for breath, almost hyperventilating. I found myself staring, but not seeing, back at the opposite wall. The human mind, I think, has a built in mental defense mechanism, because I don’t recall any coherent thought penetrating the stark fog that enveloped my mind. I think that when we run up against a mental roadblock, a situation or circumstances that are utterly incomprehensible, the mind begins to shutdown to protect itself, otherwise insanity begins to set in. It only allows rational thought once the mind has begun to take in and organize the situation.

Here I sat, in an old, abandoned bathroom. Nobody, it seemed, had been here in the recent past, except for me and some number of rodents (although the building still had electricity and at least one working light bulb). The door was secured and locked from the outside, seemingly impenetrable. I had no idea whether it was day or night. I had no idea, in fact, what day it was. I didn’t recall dressing in these clothes, or any circumstances that led to my being here.

And I was alone-completely alone.

This time, I wept silently.


Katie Booker said...


PJ said...

Deanna emailed me a suggestion for the next installment...

She said that he needs to get out...perhaps he can use something he finds in the room to pick the lock...

Your thoughts? I think it doesn't work...why?

Anonymous said...

make it like a dream maybe he passes out or something and dreams he gets out only to wake up and realize he didn't.

By the way this first part is awesome.

Anonymous said...

now that i think about it passing out and dreaming is boring. and has been done before in other books and movies. so instead how about he gets really thristy and starts looking around for something to drink and discovers what looks like a bottle of water. and because he is in so much pain and dying of thrist he doesn't think to read the bottle and just guzzles it down. and a few mins. later starts having a drug induced hallucination that he was able to break free. after which he comes to in a drug haze only to realize he is still trapped in the bathroom and still as messed up as ever. and figures out that the stuff he drank caused it and finnaly reads the bottle. to discover it was alcohol or something.

i know i'm using horrible grammar and punctuation but this idea just came to me and i wanted to get it down before i forgot. :P also pj, you might have two entries to this. one before this one that i was typing up and as i clicked the publish button internet exploer messed up so i don't know if the first got sent or not so if it did delete the first one and keep this one.

Anonymous said...

Great first installment...Very descriptive! So, my thoughts for the next installment: He should fall asleep or pass out or somethin, tired from his efforts of getting out. Then have a dream or somethin, more like a flashback, of someone like attacking him (maybe because of something he did or knew about but wasnt suppose to?). Then have him realize that whoever the person was and whatever the reason they wanted to hurt him, is how he got to wherever he's trapped now. Make sense? Just a thought...lookin forward to the next part!

PJ said...


I like that; great idea!

Anonymous said...

Okay,pj, First of all great job on this writing project you had me intrigued from the very beginning!! Now the way I see it this story could go many different ways, such as all those commented above. The way is see this one going however is that maybe he got involved or to close to some group or organization who try very hard to keep their secrets. Therefore he has been captured and that place where he is, is some sort of holding cell until they come back for him. Just a thought, my other idea is maybe that the scene described is some sort of daydream and this is what he feels in his mind! Trapped, Dirty, Alone, Exposed, with no one to talk to and nowhere to go. There is no way in or out your just stuck! He may be just a normal man with a normal life but maybe not! The possibilities are endless... let me know how it goes, I'm eager to hear the finished product!

SheGazelle said...

Ok, so I have a wacked brain. I'm well aware, trust me.
But my thought was this: this person is a fairytale or fable character, one we all know. I haven't a suggestion of which one, just connect it some how.
Now I'm sitting here laughing because I know your readers will be thinking, "Geez, PJ, who's that gazelle freak suggesting you weave your desolate tale with an old fable?!"
Ok...I'll be checking myself in at the funny farm now...